Me: So you know it’s #BankHoliday Monday tomorrow?
Dog: Does that mean we can hang out all day?
Part 2: Why it’s still not ok to sell ‘OCD sanitiser’, even if some people with OCD are not offended
Following on from my blog post on Friday and massive support on twitter from others who, like me, were offended by BlueQ’s product, ‘OCD sanitiser’ made the headlines this week.
My thoughts on the product were featured in the Daily Mail, along with ‘that’ photo of my hands at their reddest because of excessive sanitiser use (see my earlier blog entry), previously hidden by me out of fears over what others would think. The Telegraph were also quick to condemn Paperchase and other shops selling the ‘funny gift’.
Response has been mixed. Hundreds of you took to twitter to thank me for standing up and showing my picture. Many of you wrote that you were also very upset by the product, and said that getting it banned was a huge victory for sufferers of OCD. You sent love and warm words from all over the world, and I want to thank you for that. Yes, it made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. And yes, maybe I even shed a tear…
Reception on the Daily Mail was, probably unsurprisingly, not quite so cosy.
Of course, I knew I was playing with fire allowing the DM to publish my thoughts. But I decided that in the interests of getting the product banned, it was going to be worth it. In other words, I was prepared for a hoard of uninformed comments telling me that OCD wasn’t a real disorder, that I didn’t have a sense of humour, and that I was a politically correct a-hole.
What I hadn’t expected was the lack of support from fellow sufferers of OCD. Interestingly, this negativity was not mirrored on twitter, where I can confidently say that 99% of messages from fellow sufferers was very positive. I didn’t have to explain what was wrong with the product; they just got it.
This blog post is not dedicated to them, but rather to the angry OCD sufferers commenting on the Daily Mail forum.
My first thought was this: perhaps they don’t have OCD. As in, perhaps they are part of the large chunk of the population who describe themselves as ‘a bit OCD’. If so, their lack of comprehension is understandable. How can something be offensive, when all it mocks is a funny, eccentric personality quirk?
However, several of the commenters add that they have been diagnosed with the disorder, and as a result I think it’s important to address the reasons why it’s still not ok to sell ‘OCD sanitiser’, even if some people with OCD aren’t offended. So. Welcome to Part 2 of my war on ignorance!
I’m going to use an analogy as I think it will make things clearer. If someone makes a racist toy that demeans Chinese people, it’s unlikely that every single member of the Chinese population will be offended. And some Chinese people may even be able to laugh at the offending toy. However, a large percentage of people will be offended. And it is for this reason that the toy will be taken off the market, or most likely not even put on in the first place. In other words, when judging whether a product is discriminatory, it is not enough for a few people to say ‘well I’m not offended, so you shouldn’t be either, get a grip.’ A product is discriminatory in and of itself. Don’t justify something by the people it doesn’t hurt, but rather by the people it does.
Secondly, I’m not sure that my fellow sufferers have thought of the implications of saying the product doesn’t bother them. OCD is extremely misunderstood by the general population. By way of example, here are some of comments I received on the Daily Mail:
You get the idea. So when OCD sufferers secure a victory and get a product banned, and it is followed by actual sufferers of the disorder coming forward and endorsing such products, it merely adds to the highly dangerous perception that OCD is funny and amusing. It boosts stigma as it enables OCD doubters to say ‘look, it is a bit of a joke disorder, even the sufferers don’t take it seriously.’ And how can we expect others to respect our struggle, if we don’t respect it ourselves?
If OCD was better understood, this lack of unity among suffers would not be so devastating. But as confusion over the dark nature of the disorder remains so great, presenting a united front and getting the message out there that OCD isn’t amusing; it’s life ruining, has never been more important. We need to lead the way in the fight against mental health discrimination, not collaborate in it.
On a final note, to everyone who told me I need to get a sense of humour, I have it from at least two sources that I can actually be pretty funny, if I try really REALLY hard. And yes, ‘laughter weakens the monster’, that’s why I attend a support group where being able to approach issues with humour is part of our written code. But it only works when people are laughing with you, not at you. Capiche?
There seems to be some major confusion over why it’s not ok to sell a product that mocks OCD.
For those of you who haven’t seen, take a look at the hand sanitiser below:
Yesterday, I tweeted the product image along with the names of companies who sell it, and the company who produce it, which is BlueQ. I encouraged people to retweet my message if they agreed that the product should be taken off the market.
Since sending my first tweet, I’ve received messages accusing me of being a ‘politically correct fascist’, and telling me that I have let ‘modern sensitivities’ be taken to far. Another twitter user commented that there’s ‘no room for humour these days’.
In fact, even leading OCD expert Dr David Veale says he hopes that ‘most people with OCD and fears of contamination will be able to laugh at this product’.
However, I feel the notion we should be able to just ‘laugh off’ this product is incorrect.
So for everyone who doesn’t get it, here’s why.
1. OCD is a very serious disorder that ruins lives. It is a recognised mental health condition, and many people will have had personal experience of it or know someone who has.
This particular product mocks contamination OCD. Sanitiser is not inherently harmful, and is a useful tool when used correctly. But, when used incorrectly, the consequences can be terrible. Here’s a photo of me when my hands were at their worst because of my obsessive sanitiser use. I’ve always hid this picture, but I’m going to be brave and share it because I think it makes my point well.
So, let’s compare sanitiser to razor blades and toilets, which are again, not inherently ‘bad’, but can be when used wrongly.
Selling sanitiser is fine. Selling razors and toilets is fine. But to sell a product that could be used wrongly and then mock that use is dangerous.
If BlueQ thought it would be funny to sell razors that said ‘self harm approved’ on them, the world would go mad. Similarly, selling a toilet with the disclaimer ‘come on bulimics: it’s vomit reinforced!’ would lead to outrage.
Well I would like to make the suggestion that what BlueQ have done here is just as bad, but it has not been held to account because widespread public opinion holds OCD to be something funny and amusing, like a slightly eccentric personality trait that makes someone endearing.
This leads me on to my second point. Bearing in mind such poor public understanding of OCD is rampant, a product like this is hugely misleading. It simply adds to the notion that OCD isn’t something we need to take seriously, and that it’s ok to laugh at it and mock sufferers. In other words, it’s a stigma inducer that condones tasteless humour and attitudes.
For this reason, it is not enough for companies to try and avoid accountability by saying a percentage of products will be donated to OCD charities (as some have done in response to criticism). Let’s use another analogy to make this clearer. Selling a product that makes fun of black people is not ok. And even if 50% of the profits go to a charity that fights racism, it’s still not ok. Sometimes, the price of a bad joke is just too high to be cushioned by by a media savvy charity donation.
So, it’s name and shame time. Below are photos from websites that sell the product. If you think I’ve missed any companies off, don’t hesitate to let me know. Please share this article and retweet me if you are on twitter (I’m @emilydavis93). Together, we can get this product banned!
Ah, you gotta love us Brits. A little incomprehensible at times, but hey. The best intentions underlie every conversational blunder. Here’s my top pick of things Brits always say, and what they actually mean.
“Are you ok?”
Your leg is no longer attached to your body. I don’t know what else to say
“Who did you want to speak to? Oh. She’s not in the office today. Can I help you with something?”
Shit, there’s no way I’m going to be able to help you, but being British means I’m constitutionally obliged to offer my assistance
“No, it’s not a major issue”
Things will never be ok again. Ever.
To a small independent shop owner: “I might come back later…”
Oh gosh, everything in this shop really is awful, but I don’t want to hurt your feelings.
“It could be worse”
Yeah, like, if the world was ending
“I don’t know what to say”
There are a million things I want to say, but they could be construed as awfully offensive
“Maybe you didn’t get my text?”
I know you got my text bitch.
“Happy belated Birthday!”
I hate myself. I can’t believe I let this happen. I let my family down, but most of all, I’ve let myself down.
“Come on, cheer up mate!”
GET A GRIP. WE DIDN’T WIN TWO WARS LIKE THIS
The Britain’s Got Talent final is just around the corner, and I proudly count myself one among the millions of crazed Brits who Literally Can’t Think About Anything Else.
Personally, I’m rooting for operatic boy band Collabro, but 79 year old salsa dancer Paddy Jones and her partner Nico would also be deserving winners.
The competition is hot this year, so I’ll refrain from predicting a winner in case I’m wrong, which would devastate my BGT esteem. One thing I can predict however, is that the judges will say several things that really push my buzzers (see what I did there?)
Here they are then, in all their glory: The Top 10 Most Annoying Things Britain’s Got Talent Judges Always, Always Say, Even Though They Mean Shite All.
1. “Whatever happens tonight, you’ve got a future ahead of you.” Er hello? Don’t we all? That’s kind of how being alive works.
2. “I have no doubt you’re going to be a star.” Amanda Holden and David Walliams are the most guilty of this phrase. They chuck it out there at least three times an episode. If that were true, we’d have at least 20 celebrities born each series. Name 20 acts you remember from BGT 2013. Exactly.
3. “I didn’t like it. I LOVED it.” This is a cheap phrase which doesn’t even mean anything, because anyone with half a brain cell knows the two states aren’t mutually exclusive.
4. “I hope the public get behind you tonight.” I don’t Alicia. The stage would be far too full. #crowdcontrol
5. “You are the best act we’ve ever had on this show.” Yeah, cos I believed you the 100th time you said that.
6. “What I have to ask myself is would the Queen like this?” don’t ask yourself Simon. I hear Lizzie’s pretty good at making her own decisions.
7. “We’ve never had an act like you before.” David, I’m so glad you said that. DNA never fails to amaze me either.
8. “Anything could happen tonight.” Indeed. Although realistically, Simon Cowell probably won’t get naked.
9. “That was such a brave song choice.” Quick – someone run and get the Victoria Cross!
10. “I could have watched you all night.” Except at some point, I’d rather get in my Limo and head back to my 12 bedroomed mansion. Sweet dreams!
Today I got my 30, 000th follower on Twitter (whoop!).
Happy as I am, it hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows. The hate on Twitter flows freer than the champagne, and it’s a nasty part of online life I haven’t been able to avoid.
The amazing thing is, compared to the big players on Twitter, my follower count is fairly minuscule. If I get as much hate as I do, how much must those with 100s of thousands or even millions get? A tonne, I expect.
Bottom line. Hate can be horrible. So to celebrate my 30, 000 follower milestone, I thought I’d share the most offensive tweets I have ever received with you. Because, while they hurt at the time, they do make fairly hilarious reading.
Before we begin, I’ll just fill you in. I have a darling little dog called Rocky, and we frequently tweet together. Unfortunately, there’s clearly something about small white fluffy dogs that is especially repugnant to the hoards of angry, puppy-hating trolls on Twitter, and for this reason a lot of the hate is directed towards him.
Ok. Now you’re up to speed and we can begin:
1. Your not even really blonde @emilydavis93. Ew.
2. Shut up @emilydavis93. I hate you and everything you stand for. Especially your dog. I really hate your dog.
3. @emilydavis93 not only are u an oxygen theif, ur also a carbon dioxide theif cos even plants are better than u #learntitinbiology
4. @emilydavis93 What’s happening in Surrey today? Oh wait. I don’t care.
5. I just unfollowed u becos u arent even pretty animore. U used to be pretty tho. What happend @emilydavis93??
6. @emilydavis93 F*CKING FOLLOW ME B*TCH OR I’LL ASSASSINATE YOUR DOG
7. Can someone please exterminate @emilydavis93 and her rat? Sorry I mean dog.
8. @emilydavis93 is a losa wiv only dogs for frends
9. @emilydavis93 the only situation in which your dog could be fun would be as slippers.
10. And finally… There was one very persistent tweep who used to take pictures I uploaded of myself, illustrate them with phalluses, and then tweet them to me. They were everywhere. Literally. Everywhere. He would draw them pointing into my nose, mouth, ears; basically any available cavity. Although this was in some ways distressing, I had to give him credit for his artistic ability: these were no ordinary school-boy, cartoon willies. They were actually very well drawn. Eventually, I decided to give him the recognition he deserved and started favouriting his tweets. He promptly stopped.
The moral of the story? Show the troll you don’t care, or better still, that you are actually mildly amused by his/her abuse, and they’re likely to lose interest and go away. After all, there’s no point taunting a blonde, dog-loving girl who isn’t even pretty anymore and doesn’t care what you say. Right?